Cubs legend Ernie Banks remembered as ambassador to all

Sat. January 24, 2015 5:51 PM by News Staff

the wrigley field marquee pays tribute to mr. cub

photo credit // twitter/mlb

‘Out at Wrigley’ will honor Ernie Banks as a champion for LGBT rights

Chicago, IL - Chicago Cubs icon and Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks, known simply as "Mr. Cub", passed away Friday night at age 83.

"Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time," Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said in a statement. "He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I've ever known.

"Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie's life in the days ahead."

Banks was a two-time MVP, 14-time All-Star and ended his career with 512 home runs. His No. 14 is retired by the Cubs and he has a statue outside Wrigley Field. He was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 for his contribution to the sport.

In 2010, Banks became the first MLB Hall of Famer to participate in a gay pride parade when he represented the Cubs at the 41st annual Chicago Pride Parade. He rode aboard a float decked out in a brick-and-ivy motif like Wrigley Field's outfield wall.

Banks also brought increased visibility to the fight for marriage equality when he joined former Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent in signing a letter of support for Illinois' same-sex marriage bill. The legislation passed on Nov. 5, 2013.

"Mr. Cub was a huge supporter of gay rights," LGBT sports historian Bill Gubrud told "With just his presence and enthusiasm at the pride parade in 2010, Ernie gave the LGBT community hope that one day gay players will be accepted as peers in all professional sports."

Gubrud is the executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame (NGLSHF) and founder of 'Out at Wrigley', the largest annual LGBT sporting event in the country. Gubrud told that the 2015 'Out at Wrigley' event, which is planned for Saturday, July 25, will be dedicated to Ernie "Mr. Cub" Banks.

"He was a class act," said Gubrud. "His sunny disposition and love of all people made him stand out as a unique individual. There will never be another Ernie Banks."

Banks' wife, Liz, will hold a news conference at noon Sunday. He would have been 84 next Saturday.

Update: Ernie Banks died from heart attack (1/25/2015)

"Ernie passed away on Friday evening, January 23, after suffering from a heart attack. It was seven days before his 84th birthday," Mark Bogen, Banks' attorney, said during a Sunday news conference. 

"He stood up for gay rights and asked the Cubs to have a float in the gay pride parade," said Bogen, who stood alongside Banks' wife, Liz. 

Bogen added funeral arrangements for Banks had not yet been finalized.

"I want you to know he was very beloved, and he is going to be dearly missed by family, friends and all of his fans," Liz Banks said.